Lincoln Park

By Michael Traynor


It’s April in February — when you are in love with Spring

Sometimes the February weather in Chicago feels like it is really April. Having experienced the mildest February in Chicago history, we can be easily confused about whether this is a  Winter “head fake” with a return to winter weather imminent, or whether the Spring season has arrived earlier than the official date of March 20th.  

First snowdrop bloom, near Conservatory.

Due to our early warmth, most of the traditional harbingers of Spring that fall in the calendar month of March had already occurred in February.  I have never seen so many early sightings of Spring in Lincoln Park, and nature is many weeks ahead of a normal season.

First scilla bloom, near Fullerton/Stockton

 It’s quite lovely, and yet it is not clear how this early warmth could affect weather and nature ahead.  Should we be worried?  Seeking an answer, I asked some meteorologists.  

 First crocus bloom, near History Museum

Crocus in bloom

Meteorologists are all proclaiming an early Spring this year — not due to February warmth, or due to the Groundhog’s prediction. It is due to 2024 being a leap year.  Meteorological spring falls on March 20th (or 21st) at the vernal equinox, when hours of daylight equal hours of darkness. With February apportioned an extra day in leap year, Spring begins on March 19th. So spring is early indeed early this year — sort of — and yet still not sure if we need worry.

 First Lenten Rose bloom, in English Garden

For a second opinion, I asked Dean Martin by seance.  Dean used to sing  ” It’s June in January, when you are in love.”  He lovingly celebrated January without a care as to what that implied for weather in upcoming months, even through June.  Dean advises us to live in the moment!  That sounds good, but Dean was an alcoholic often oblivious to weather, so doing so might have been easier for him than for the rest of us. That said, is it worth a try?  

First turtles sunning themselves, in North Pond

I think it is.  Dean’s advice to live in the moment suggests that when “It’s April in February ” for us, we can be unconditionally delighted with this present moment, without worrying about what could lie ahead. That sounds good to me. Dean did add that we should be in love to make this fully real.  That is not hard, once we appreciate that the title of the song we are singing is  “It’s April in February when you are in love — with Nature”.  

First  heavily budded daffodils, near Zoo


Heavily budded hyacinths near Hamilton statue.

When it is “April in February,” new life tumbles out in record time. Enjoy such a rare February, and enjoy the fuller unfolding of Spring ahead, regardless of the pace that takes.   For the record, these are photos of the very first sightings of these harbingers of Spring taken this February in Lincoln Park.  Venture out and find the ones upcoming in March! 

 First seagull arrival, in North Pond

First red winged blackbird,  near Franklin statue